The Queen’s Secret

Written by Jean Plaidy
Review by Dana Cohlmeyer

Telling the fascinating story of Katherine of Valois, the mother of England’s mighty Tudor dynasty, The Queen’s Secret opens with Katherine having retired to Bermondsey Abbey to mourn the imprisonment of her secret husband, Owen Tudor. As Katherine reminisces about her childhood as a French princess born to King Charles VI, later known as Charles the Mad, she recounts a stark, neglectful story of surprising austerity. Her story grows somewhat brighter as she finds herself married to King Henry V of England and settles into a life split between a war-torn France nominally ruled by King Henry V and a peaceful England.

This book by Plaidy (pen name of well-known author Eleanor Hibbert aka Victoria Holt), originally published in 1990, is being reissued as part of her Queens of England series recounting the lives of some of England’s queens from Eleanor of Aquitaine through to Queen Victoria. She vividly recreates Katherine’s story here with incredible passion, and readers can’t help being drawn into the story through the endless courtly intrigue and constant worries about her secret being found out.

Overall, this is a fantastically well-written, riveting story of a somewhat unknown (at least to this Anglophile) queen. Readers with an ounce of romance always dream of royal tales filled with unimaginable comfort and power. The Queen’s Secret provides a refreshing, down-to-earth story of a woman not blessed with everything we imagine her to be, just fighting for her husband and children. It’s certainly recommended.